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Thou, whom nor honors, wealth, nor youth can spoil
'Tis still by something they themselves possess.
But have we then no law besides our will ? No just criterion fix'd to good and ill ? As well at noon we may obstruct our sight, Then doubt if such a thing exists as light; For no less plain would nature's law appear, As the meridian sun unchang'd, and clear. · Would we but search for what we were design’d, And for what end th’ Almighty form’d mankind, A rule of life we then should plainly see, For to pursue that end must Virtue be.
Then what is that? not want of power, or fame, Or worlds unnumber'd to applaud his name, But a desire his blessings to diffuse, And fear lest millions should existence lose; His goodness only could his pow'r employ, And an eternal warmth to propagate his joy.
Hence soul and sense diffus'd through every place, , Make happiness as infinite as space; Thousands of suns beyond each other blaze, Orbs roll o'er orbs, and glow with mutual rays;
Each is a world, where form’d with wond'rous art,
Nature so plain this primal law displays, Each living creature sees it, and obeys; Each, form’d for all, promotes through private care The public good, and justly tastes its share. All understand their great Creator's will, Strive to be happy, and in that fulfill; Mankind excepted ; lord of all beside, But only slave to folly, vice, and pride ; 'Tis he that's deaf to this command alone, Delights in others' woe, and courts his own; Racks and destroys with tort'ring steel and flame, For lux'ry brutes, and man himself for fame : Sets Superstition high on Virtue's throne, Then thinks his Maker's temper like his own : Hence are his altars stain'd with reeking gore,
As if he could atone for crimes by more :
How easy is our yoke! how light our load !
But hold, cries out some Puritan divine,
Heav'n's path is rough and intricate, they say,
Mistaken men, too piously severe ! Through craft misleading, or misled by fear ; How little they God's counsels comprehend, Our universal parent, guardian, friend ! Who, forming by degrees to bliss mankind, This globe our sportive nursery assign'd, Where for awhile his fond paternal care Feasts us with every joy our state can bear: Each sense, touch, taste, and smell dispense delight, Music our hearing, beauty charms our sight; Trees, herbs, and flow'rs to us their spoils resign, Its pearl the rock presents, its gold the mine; Beasts, fowl, and fish their daily tribute give Of food and cloaths, and die that we may live : Seasons but change, new pleasures to produce, And elements contend to serve our use : Love's gentle shafts, ambition's tow'ring wings, The pomps of senates, churches, courts, and kings, All that our rev'rence, joy, or hope create, Are the gay play-things of this infant state. Scarcely an ill to human life belongs, But what our follies cause, or mutual wrongs ,